Manfred's daughter, 6-year old Princess Beatrice, and her mother,
Helen of Epirus, along with her three little brothers, were staying
in the castle of Lucera in Apulia, protected by their faithful Saracen
guards. Queen Helena, who had good cause not to trust the local
barons, as they had proven so treacherous to her husband's cause,
knew they were in danger. So, with her four young children she fled
to Trani on the Adriatic coast, to the very castle where not so
many years before she had become the bride of King Manfred amidst
the pomp and splendor of a royal wedding.
that Charles and his spies were searching for her and her children,
especially the male heirs of the Norman/Swabian Kingdom, Helena,
panic-stricken and desperate, took refuge in that same castle
until she could find a ship to take them all to Epirus, her homeland
in Greece. They finally set sail despite a terrible storm,
but the winds were too fierce and they were driven back upon the
shores of Trani. Once more they took refuge in the castle and
it was there that they were soon captured by the soldiers sent
by Charles of Anjou.
Beatrice and her mother were sent across the country to the castle
of Nocera and were held prisoner in that fortress. The three little
princes were taken to the nearby Castel del Monte, the handsome
octagonal castle in Apulia that had been the pride and joy of
their grandfather, Frederick II. There they stayed, often chained
up like animals, for over 25 years. (But theirs is another story
--and one without a happy ending).
the new Angevin king, now ensconced in his new capital of Naples,
was anxious to legitimize his rule, first by getting rid of the
opposition. So, after chopping off the head of another of Frederick's
grandsons, 16 year old Conradin, in the Piazza del Mercato in
the middle of Naples, he encouraged the rumors that the three
young sons of Manfred had all died.
the young princess may still have been with her mother, Helena,
in Nocera where, after five years in prison, not knowing the fate
of her little sons, Helena died --many said-- of a broken heart.
We do know that shortly after her mother's death, in 1292 Beatrice
was imprisoned in the then not-so-old Egg Castle. And there our
beautiful princess stayed all through her growing-up years. She
must have been very beautiful if she looked at all like
her parents, for the chronicles write of her father being a handsome,
fair and charming prince, and of her mother as being the beautiful
Helena, daughter of the despot of Epirus.
news, good and news, always gets around, even in castles, our
princess must have rejoiced when she heard that the Sicilians
had rebelled and massacred every hated Frenchman they could lay
their hands on. Even better news came when the Sicilians invited
Beatrice's big sister, Constance, (Manfred's daughter by his first
wife) and her Spanish husband, Peter III of Aragon, to become
their queen and king. If the War of the Sicilian Vespers hadn't
broken out, or if the Aragonese side hadn't had such a splendidly
successful admiral, Roger of Lauria, our princess might have spent
the rest of her life in that formidable Egg. Beatrice, herself,
must have given up hope during her long years of imprisonment..
day in 1284, Beatrice, perhaps gazing out of her window, must
have been thrilled to see the sails of the Sicilian fleet
coming ever closer, finally daring to anchor under the walls of
her prison. While Roger, the admiral, didn't stay long in Naples,
he fulfilled his queen's desire to rescue her younger sister.
Thus, when he set sail for Sicily, Beatrice was with him.
18 years in prison, to sail away free at last from the Egg into
the tender arms of her sister waiting in Palermo must have seemed
to her like a fairy tale come true. Princess Beatrice even
found her prince, or, at least, her marchese, for very
shortly, at age 24, she married Manfredi, Marquis of Saluzzo.
. .and, of course, they lived happily ever after.